(Missourian file photo)
Southeast was picked third in the OVC preseason poll released Wednesday after its surprise 2011 campaign.
Voting was done by the league's coaches and sports information directors.
The Redhawks received two first-place votes and 192 points.
"I think being picked third and getting two first-place votes shows us a lot of respect," second-year Southeast coach Julie Folliard said. "I think it's great. The players have earned the respect."
(Missourian file photo)
The Eagles, who also won last year's OVC tournament and have lost just two conference matches in the past two seasons, received 22 of the 24 first-place votes and 242 points.
First-year OVC member Belmont, the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season champion, was picked second with 198 points.
Tennessee-Martin (167 points) and Tennessee State (130) round out the top five.
Eastern Kentucky (117) is sixth, SIU Edwardsville (109) seventh, Murray State (105) eighth, Austin Peay (100) and Eastern Illinois (100) tied for ninth, Jacksonville State (83) 11th and Tennessee Tech (41) 12th.
Southeast was picked ninth last year after the Redhawks missed the OVC tournament the previous two seasons and were coming off a ninth-place finish.
Folliard led the 2011 Redhawks to a fourth-place OVC finish and their first conference tournament berth since 2008 during her first year with the program. They went 14-19 overall and 12-9 in league play.
The Redhawks lost just two seniors from a year ago. They return 11 players, including three who started at least 31 matches last season, two more who started at least 13 matches and two more who started at least six matches.
Southeast junior middle blocker Emily Coon and junior setter Julie Shives both were voted to the 14-player preseason all-OVC team. Both are entering their third seasons as starters.
Coon is coming off an all-OVC campaign that saw her lead the league with 141 blocks while ranking in the conference's top five with a .301 hitting percentage. She was second on the squad with 288 kills.
Shives recorded 1,189 assists, 391 digs, 155 kills and 22 service aces last year. She led the Redhawks in assists, digs and aces.
The Redhawks also return their kills leader from 2011 in senior outside hitter Brittney Kalinoski, who posted 328 kills.
Southeast opens the season Aug. 24 at the Iowa Hawkeye Challenge.
The Redhawks will hold an open scrimmage at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Houck Field House, which is free to the public.